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This Week’s Inspirational Pop Culture Moments

posted by Evan Derrick

by Amy and Nancy Harrington, the Pop Culture Passionistas

A little girl fulfills her dream to dance, stars stick it out for their charities and a pop star turns editor-in-chief. Here are this week’s most inspirational pop culture moments.

‘Dancing with the Stars Makes a Little Girls Dream Come True

Tuesday night’s “Dancing with the Stars” featured a story about how dance has affected one young girl’s life. Thirteen-year-old Tayla Kelley was diagnosed at an early age with primary immune deficiency disease. But her illness has not stopped her from pursuing her passion on the dance floor.

Her mother noted, “Taylor’s dream has always been to de dancer. [It's] always been her passion.” But from the age of two weeks old, Tayla began having health issues. She is missing half of her immune system and is very susceptible to many life threatening viruses and bacteria. Her mother explained, “Tayla has a 60% chance to make it to [age] 18.” But she decided when she was very young that she didn’t want to be the sick girl and she was going to fight her illness. Tayla remarks, “I love dancing because it gets my mind off of everything else going on in my life like doctors appointments and surgeries and treatments.”

“DWTS” invited her on the show to fulfill a dream to be on TV. Chelsie Hightower and Lacey Schwimmer choreogrpahed and danced a routine with Tayla live on the results show this week. She held her own with the two pros and was beaming with pride as her tearful mother watched from the front row. After the performance Tom Bergeron asked how she stays calm in front of millions of people and she replied, “I just pretend that no one’s watching.” Well, we were Tayla.

Marlee Matlin and John Rich Battle it Out for Charity

On Sunday night either country singer John Rich or Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin will become the next “Celebrity Apprentice.” Last week they started their final task, branding, marketing and holding a big event for the launch of a new product 7UP Retro. At stake is $250,000 for their charity of choice. Rich is playing for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Matlin hopes to win the prize for the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

It was pretty obvious from early on that these two would go far in the show. And in a recent conference call interview they admitted they had a mutual respect from the start. Rich explained, “It just was looks we would give each other every now and then that was just an understanding of, ‘We’re both here for our charities. We’re serious about this.’ And that we were going to compete all the way as far we could. It was always there, you could feel it in the air between the two of us.”

Marlee said that what was impressed her about Rich was that she knew “he was there for the same reason I was there for. It wasn’t about the drama, it was about the charity. His passion for Saint Jude’s is so incredible that I finally saw that we both shared a passion for our charities in a way that nobody else could. I knew he was there for a good reason. And I saw that every moment of the day that he worked.”

The pair described the pressure cooker that the stars are put in. They are worked for very long days. Rich noted, “They keep you exhausted and they keep you in that level of fatigue on purpose. I didn’t like it, but I understood it. And I just accepted it at some point and said, ‘You know what? You’re going to be tired. If you want to try to win this thing, you got to power through it.’ And I think that separated a lot of contestants from other contestants — the exhaustion factor alone separated people.”

He pointed out that being a tour musician, long days and grueling schedules come with the territory so it was not as hard for him as it was on others. But he remarked, “Obviously it wasn’t a problem for Marlee. And if it was, she never let on to it because I think at the end of the day you just keep concentrating on the fact that if you win this thing, it’s another quarter-of-a-million dollars. And there’s all these opportunities that come into play for you charity. So being tired… doesn’t really have a place.”

Matlin interjected, “It’s all about that charity and Red Bull… And John was right. It was really tough. But you know, you stick it out for the charity.”

See who wins “The Celebrity Apprentice” on the live finale on Sunday, May 22 at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. Central on NBC.

Lady Gaga Takes a Serious Gig (Briefly at Least)

Lady Gaga knows a lot about being unusual — from her way-above-average musical talent to her odd couture fashions. But this week she took on a very mundane jog — serving as guest editor-in-chief at Metro newspaper in London for a day.

Of course she didn’t don a simple tailored suit. Instead she wore an eye mask, a cross-encrusted collar, and bustier and topped it all off with a beehive hairdo. But that aside she took her job very seriously, leading staffers through a morning meeting where she covered topics like bullying.

It was clear in a video posted on Reuters.com that Gaga wanted to put out a focused message in her brief time in charge, telling staff, “Some of us aren’t popular. Some of us aren’t in the in crowd. I’m still not in the in crowd. I still get bullied by tons of people all the time every day — in the press and in my real life and people from my past. It’s part of real life. So push the boundaries of love.”

Gaga will continue to inspire her legion of little monsters when her anthemic be yourself album “Born This Way” hits stores on May 23.



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